The Collegian
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

North Court renovation leads to loss of housing

The Westhampton College crest glowed on the side of North Court for this year’s centennial celebration. In 1914, North Court was the first building constructed for Westhampton College. This May, 100 years later, North Court’s interior will receive a modern fix-up.

The renovation of North Court will begin in May and will be completed July 2016. The reconstruction of North Court had nothing to do with its post-centennial timing, said Chuck Rogers, director of design and construction for University Facilities. “It’s been part of the housing plan for the last few years,” he said.

The plan included the construction of Westhampton Hall and Gateway Village Apartments to account for extra housing, while older buildings such as North were renovated. Jeter and Thomas halls were revamped this year to be completed in time to house students during North Court’s renovation, Rogers said.

But this year, even with added housing, many students have been dissatisfied with the accommodations. Emily Murphy, a freshman and Lora Robins Court resident, is rooming with a junior who was “stuck in freshman housing” after returning from abroad. A common room in Moore Hall was also converted to a dorm room because of the lack of available housing space, Murphy said.

Rogers said the 209 current North Court rooms would be converted to an estimated 158 suite-style rooms. This transition in size accounts for the addition of suite-style bathrooms.

Jeter Hall will hold 83 beds, and Thomas Hall will hold 86 beds in the fall of 2015. Murphy and Alice Allan, a sophomore and North Court resident, are curious to see how this 209-room loss of North Court will be rectified by the 169-bed gain of Jeter and Thomas next year.

Allan said it wasn't about having the “available housing” for upperclassmen. “Upperclassmen don’t want to live in Jeter or Thomas dorm. They want to live in apartments,” she said.

North Court will not be completely torn down or redone, Rogers said. Most of North Court’s interior walls are going to be knocked down, but there will be a major attempt to maintain as many walls as possible.

“People need to know we are preserving the tradition and history, but we are going to modernize and update North court,” Rogers said. Allan agrees with these plans.

“Because it is so old, the walls are paper-thin. I can hear the person in the neighboring room's phone vibrate,” Allan said. Furthermore, the location of her room coincides with inconvenient doors. Some doors only allow students to exit and not enter.

North Court’s renovation will allow for more conveniences. The addition of an elevator and possibly ramps will make North Court handicapped accessible, Rogers said.

Rogers said he thought alumnae who had lived in North Court would embrace this renovation. Although, some North Court alumnae have implied their fear that the building’s history wouldn’t be preserved, Rogers explained the exterior would remain the same and the interior renovations were necessary.

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No concrete plans of commemorating the history of the building have been made thus far. Rogers said he thought perhaps some old photos would be hung to celebrate the history of North Court.

Contact reporter Holly Speck at holly.speck@richmond.edu

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